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Updated Jul 8, 2024, 2:15pm EDT
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Boeing to plead guilty over deadly 737 MAX crashes, adding to aircraft giant’s woes

Insights from BBC, The Washington Post, Politico, and Forbes

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FILE PHOTO: A Boeing logo is seen at the company's technology and engineering center in Sao Jose dos Campos, Sao Paulo state, Brazil October 10, 2023. REUTERS/Gabriel Araujo/File Photo
Gabriel Araujo/REUTERS/File Photo
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Boeing agreed to plead guilty to a criminal fraud charge after the US Justice Department accused the aviation giant of failing to improve its manufacturing process following two fatal 737 MAX crashes.

As part of the deal, Boeing will be required to pay a $243.6m (£190m) fine. The company will also be subject to three years of independent safety audits. Boeing avoids a trial under the deal’s terms.

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Crash victims’ families said they would ask a judge to toss the deal, and that they wanted Boeing go to trial to expose how the company evaded federal scrutiny.

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Guilty plea adds to Boeing’s reputational woes

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Sources:  
BBC, The Washington Post, Politico

It’s “rare” for a company of Boeing’s size, age, and reputation to plead guilty to a crime, The Washington Post noted. The decision is “a significant black mark,” the BBC added, marking a difficult time for the firm and further damaging its “battered” reputation, after several deadly crashes and fresh concerns over the manufacturing process for a newer model of its MAX aircraft, the Post added. Boeing has come under intense regulatory scrutiny, with accusations it has prioritized profit over safety, Politico noted, but the Justice Department’s move takes the criticism to a new level.

Boeing may be ‘too big to be held to account’

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Source:  
BBC

The role Boeing plays as a contractor for the US’ Department of Defense, and other key agencies, was likely a factor in the Justice Department’s decision not to pursue more serious penalties against it, analysts told the BBC. In 2023, the company signed more than $14 billion in military contracts, placing it among the top five US defense contractors. Boeing is also one of just two main aircraft producers in the world, and the aviation industry needs it to continue functioning, the BBC noted. Boeing is essentially too big to fail, and in turn, perhaps “too big to be held to account.”

Doubts remain over Boeing’s ability to bounce back

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Source:  
Forbes

Boeing’s plea deal came just a week after it agreed to purchase Spirit AeroSystems — the supplier of the 737 fuselage that was involved in a February incident where a door plug blew out mid-flight — in a move designed to show it was serious about upping the quality of its aircraft. But some experts are doubtful that Boeing’s current management actually has the ability to solve its quality problems, Forbes noted. “It’s not like Boeing has a world-class operating system that they can just drop in on Spirit. Boeing’s operating system has the same problem Spirit’s does,” a consultant said. There may have to be more sweeping changes to make Boeing’s leadership focus on manufacturing, rather than financials, another consultant said.

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